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Commencement ceremony
June 14, 2015 -
9:30am to 11:30am

No tickets are required

Gates open at 8:00 AM
Procession begins at 9:30 AM*

Ceremony begins at 10:00 AM
*Ceremony participants report at 8:30 AM. Please refer to the ceremony instruction links on the student and faculty pages for complete details.

Degrees will be conferred; however, no diplomas will be awarded at this ceremony. President Hennessy will address the assemblage as well as the Commencement speaker; the Cuthbertson, Gores, and Dinkelspiel awards will be presented. Please see the Diploma Ceremonies page for diploma location and distribution information.

Commencement Speaker

Richard Engel, the chief foreign correspondent for NBC News who has covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, will be the 2015 Commencement speaker at Stanford University. Journalist and author Engel has covered major international events for nearly 20 years, including the Arab Spring, the war in Afghanistan and conflict in Somalia. He has been the chief foreign correspondent for NBC News since 2008. As a Middle East correspondent, Engel was the only American television journalist to remain in Baghdad for the entire Iraq War, from the first shelling in 2003 to the capture and execution of Saddam Hussein. He was kidnapped while covering the Syrian civil war in December 2012 and was psychologically tortured by his captors before being freed, in a hail of gunfire between Syrian groups, after five days in captivity.

"Richard Engel has worked tirelessly and courageously to translate the most important international issues of our time for the American public and the world," said Stanford President John Hennessy. "From the beginnings of the war in Iraq to the Syrian civil war, to violence in Paris just this month, Richard has reported on conflict and risked his life to help all of us understand the historic implications. As a Stanford alumnus speaking to our new graduates, he can share firsthand what it means to be a truly global citizen."

"I am overwhelmed to have been asked to speak this spring and return to the Farm," Engel said. "I remember my own graduation nearly 20 years ago. When I walked into the stadium in the heat, I wasn't sure what I would do next or where I would go. I had a plan, but doubts as well. A few weeks later, I decided to take a chance. I moved to the Middle East with a couple of suitcases, learned Arabic, began a career in journalism and never looked back. I look forward to talking to the graduates about what I've seen and learned over the years, exploring war zones, watching nations and societies smash into each other with tragic consequences. Hopefully, I'll be able to inspire some of these amazing young men and women to take a chance and stare fearlessly into the bright light outside the cave. I thank Stanford for this tremendous honor."

After graduating from Stanford in 1996 with a BA in international relations, Engel moved to the slums of Cairo to pursue work as a correspondent. He learned Arabic and worked as a freelancer for numerous news organizations from many Middle East locations. He worked as a freelance journalist for ABC News during the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq and continued his coverage of the war for NBC. He became Beirut bureau chief and senior Middle East correspondent in 2006. In 2009, Engel was stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan. In 2011, he reported on the Egyptian revolution amidst protests and tear gas. He covered the Libyan civil war, and did a segment on Mogadishu, Somalia, proclaiming it "the world's most dangerous city."

Senior class presidents Connor Kelley, Malika Mehrotra, Eric Iwashita and Natalya Thakur said that the choice of Engel will provide the Class of 2015 with "an impassioned and tenacious speaker who will be able to inspire members of the Class of 2015 to engage with the world beyond whatever path our classmates choose after graduation."

"Richard Engel has devoted his life and career to the pursuit of social justice through journalism, a commitment that demonstrates a high level of risk-taking in order to pursue his passion. We believe that he, as a Stanford alum, will be able to connect with students and share his perspective on the inspirational decisions and sacrifices he has made since leaving the Farm, and what it means to make an impact," the class presidents said.

Engel is the author of two books, A Fist in the Hornet's Nest and War Journal: My Five Years in Iraq. Engel has won many awards for his work, including numerous Emmys, the George Foster Peabody Award (2009), the Edward R. Murrow Award (2006 and 2009), and the first Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism (2007). In 2011, Engel was honored with the Daniel Pearl Award for courage and integrity in journalism, in memory of Wall Street Journal reporter and Stanford alumnus Daniel Pearl, BA '85, who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002.

Live Webcast

A live webcast will be available on Sunday, June 14, beginning at 9:30 AM PDT.

Audio and Video Recordings

Recordings of the main Commencement ceremony will be available on Stanford iTunes and Stanford YouTube following the event. A link to those recordings will be added to the Commencement homepage when they are available.

General Ceremony and Event Information

For the comfort of families and guests: The following suggestions may make the Commencement ceremony more enjoyable.

  • Dress for the heat; light clothing is advisable.
  • Hats, visors, and sun block are highly recommended.
  • Events may be located some distance from each other. Please consider wearing comfortable shoes.
  • Water will be available in the Main Quadrangle for Baccalaureate and in the Stadium for the Commencement ceremony, but you may wish to bring your own water as well.
  • Light refreshments will be available for purchase at the Stadium during Commencement.
  • Umbrellas will not be permitted, as they block the view of other guests.
  • Smoking is prohibited in the Stanford Stadium and all other indoor and outdoor spaces holding events during the weekend.

Disability Information

Please visit the Disability Resources section of this website or contact the Disability Access Office directly at (650) 725-0326 or For additional information, please visit the Office of Diversity & Access.

Security and Safety Advisory

All bags may be subject to search at all entrances to the Stadium during Commencement and at any Commencement Weekend events throughout the campus. In the interest of all guests, no large items, such as banners, posters, or umbrellas, amplification equipment, such as bullhorns or megaphones, will be allowed. No alcohol is permitted at any of the ceremonies.

Stroller Check Area

Due to safety regulations, no strollers are allowed in the seating areas of the Stadium. For your convenience, a stroller check area will be provided near Gate 3 of the Stadium.